Pence: loyalist or successor-in-waiting?


By Varghese K. George
In an unusual move, Vice-President Mike Pence has set up a Political Action Committee (PAC) to support the Republican campaign for the 2018 mid-term Congressional election and the 2020 general election. While Presidents usually support PACs to raise funds, VPs associate with the party national committee to raise funds for candidates.
With Donald Trump’s presidency tumbling from one crisis to another, American conservatives and the GOP establishment are revisiting an idea that has tantalised them for months — President Mike Pence. Pence has strongly resented such reports, insisting on playing the role of a loyalist to Mr. Trump. Pence has generously expended his political capital in the Washington establishment to defend his boss.
Pence will reportedly use the money raised by the PAC to fund his travel on Air Force Two to campaign for Republican candidates in 2018. An unnamed associate of Mr. Pence told NBC News that the PAC will “provide resources for the Vice-President to actually support candidates who are supportive of the President’s agenda,” ruling out a presidential run for the vice-president himself in 2020.
The new PAC will assemble Pence’s campaign donors and new ones on a single platform, and will be run by two of his aides — Nick Ayers and Marty Obst.
Ever since his selection as the vice-presidential candidate, Pence has played second fiddle to Trump, describing his role in the following words at last year’s Republican National Convention: “You know, he’s a man known for a larger personality, a colorful style and lots of charisma. And so, I guess he was just looking for some balance on the ticket.”
A pious Christian and soft spoken, he has validated that characterization over the last four months. As VP, it was Pence who soothed the frayed nerves of allies in Europe and Asia, assuring them that the administration is committed to them, despite Trump’s rhetoric against “free riding” partners. He has also been the bridge between the President and the Republican Congressional leadership that had put up a stiff resistance to candidate Trump.
Pence has stood by the President on all controversial decisions, including the firing of FBI chief James Comey, but he still enjoys the confidence of party colleagues and the policy establishment. He is the one who is frequently called by the President to the Oval Office for counsel and in the unlikely event of an impeachment, will occupy it.